Second cup oh so sweet

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Craig Adams insists the Stanley Cup didn't end up at the bottom of Mario Lemieux's pool this time around, and the owner's house party didn't go all Sunday night.

Good thing, as the Calgary native and his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates had a pretty early morning yesterday prepping for a parade staged in front of more than a hundred-thousand people.

"It was insane," the 32-year-old winger said of his second Stanley Cup celebration in four years. "I've never seen anything like it."

Same goes for the party at Mario's place.

"I don't know if I should go into details," laughed Adams who brought wife Anne, son Rhys and five-week-old daughter Francesca to the bash. "Mario rolled out the welcome mat for us, and his house and backyard are just beautiful."

Having won a national championship with the Calgary Canucks as a teen before becoming captain at Harvard where he met, and later married, the governor's daughter, Adams' run of good fortune continues.

Case in point: Four years ago, the Hartford Whalers draft pick had left Carolina to sign with Anaheim, only to be traded back to the Canes after training camp and days before the 2005/06 NHL season started. Eight months later, he was a Stanley Cup champ.

Fast forward to 2009 when the checking-line winger found himself mired so low down Chicago's depth chart the healthy scratch started contemplating life after hockey by looking at returning to business school. The fear was that without a contract for next year, his career might be done.

However, on March 4, he was plucked off waivers by the Pens, who leaned heavily on his faceoff ability and penalty-killing experience all the way to Friday's Game 7 Cup win.

"I feel pretty lucky, for sure," said Adams, a pending unrestricted free agent who landed in Pittsburgh two weeks after the arrival of coach Dan Bylsma to help turn the club's fortunes around.

"It was tough there for a while, and I had to be realistic about the future. I feel like I won the lottery coming to Pittsburgh when I did. At the time, I felt this might be my chance to play meaningful games and play a role. You have to do enough to make sure there's a demand for you, and playoff runs help. Now, I'm hoping there's another contract out there."

He has not yet talked about a new contract with Pittsburgh.

Thrilled to have already snapped a keepsake photo of his young daughter sitting atop the Cup, Adams says he'll soon return to his rented home in Chicago for the summer, where his family will help him draw up the perfect day with the Cup.

The first time he won it, his day included a visit to the Alberta Children's Hospital, time with old teammates and coaches at Max Bell Centre and a road hockey game in his childhood community of Lake Bonavista, where two dozen of his pals competed for it as they'd done in their minds decades earlier.

His task now is to try improving on the perfect day.

"If anything it was a little bit hectic -- the second time around we won't jam the day," said the grad of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, who vividly remembers attending the Flames' Cup celebration as a 12-year-old. "I haven't had a chance to think about what we'll do this time, but I'm 99% sure it'll be in Calgary."

Inundated with an estimated 120 calls, texts and e-mails from friends and former teammates, Adams admits the celebration that follows a Cup win goes too fast.

"The grind of 16 games and the feeling of lifting it ... incredible, but it all goes too quickly," Adams said. "I've been telling the guys you can never get enough of the Cup."

A theory he's only too happy to test.


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